Interviews: Here’s the Story of ‘The Brady Bunch’ in the Present Day

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StarMike Lookinland, Bobby Brady on “The Brady Bunch”

Mike Lookinland, the youngest male Brady, was also known for a couple of outside roles from the family, co-starring with Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jones and Fred Astaire in the ‘70s schlock classic, ‘The Towering Inferno” and on the Saturday morning live action show “The Secrets of Isis.” In you early days as an actor, what did your parents do to make sure that you would have a relatively normal life, or was there nothing normal about it?

Mike Lookinland: My family all had as normal a life as we could. We were all registered in public schools. Up until high school, I went through the Los Angeles public school district, in grade school and junior high. Did they make accommodations for your TV work schedule?

Mike Lookinland
Mike Lookinland as Bobby Brady
Photo credit: Paramount Home Entertainment

Lookinland: The tutors and the parents took care of that. I’d go back to my regular school ahead in class, because I had a tutor. We had two teachers for the six of us. Since you and your fellow cast members of The Brady Bunch has been linked together for so long, what do you admire about them as adults that you didn’t expect since you knew them as kids?

Lookinland: I don’t know, I wouldn’t imagine that Susan Olsen would be a mother, be raising a son. Chris hit it big in computer software, and I couldn’t imagine he’d be that big a businessman. I hit one button on a computer and it crashes. [laughs] I admire him for that. And Barry has made a great career just continuing with the Greg Brady and Johnny Bravo theme. What was hardest about the song and dance period in the 1970s regarding The Brady Bunch and was there ever a time you didn’t want to go along with it?

Lookinland: I actually went along with everything I did based on the fact I was told as a child that ‘they’ hired you and ‘they’ were your employer, and I was the employee. They were the boss, and I had to do what they told me. That was sort of the theme of my young life. We weren’t allowed to go off the rails, we were kept on a pretty tight lease. I didn’t mind the singing, I am a singer and musician. But I can’t dance to save my life. [laughs] Besides meeting two of the coolest actors ever – Steve McQueen and Paul Newman – on the set of ‘The Towering Inferno,’ who else from that famous cast do you distinctly remember?

Lookinland: I have to say that Fred Astaire struck me as a very special person. Just being near him was like, ‘wow, look at him.’ His feet never touched the ground when he walked, but that’s to be expected from Fred Astaire. How did you get that gig?

Lookinland: I just got cast. I really think the kids were an afterthought in that film, because we were cast on a Thursday afternoon, and Monday morning I was at work. It wasn’t like there was any kind of big process. I spend the next four months at 20th Century Fox watching fires burn, it was great. Your son portrayed you in the TV movie ‘Growing up Brady.’. What tips did you give him about portraying the old man?

Lookinland: I probably just told him be yourself and do what the director tells you, because I’m not the director, he is. Just do what what the director tells you and everything will be fine. [laughs] What is the best part in this stage in your life?

Lookinland: My family. My wife and I are going on 25 years of marriage and I definitely married the right person. It’s family, and my relationship with her.

StarSusan Olsen, Cindy Brady on “The Brady Bunch”

Susan Olsen, the “youngest one in curls,” has become a high profile animal rescue advocate, serving on the Board of Directors for the organization “Precious Paws.” You work closely with animal advocacy. What got you interested in those efforts and what are you currently involved with now?

Susan Olsen: I just got a text, showing me six puppies that just got dug up from under a building. Had they not found them, these little guys would have drown. I began as a foster parent for the shelter, bottle babying kittens and puppies. I would feed them until they reached a couples pounds, then they can be spayed, neutered and adopted.

Interestingly enough, Chris Knight worked with a woman named Georgyne Lalone of Precious Paws. He introduced me to her, and it turned out she had started rescuing cats on the Paramount lot, which generations later were the offspring of the cats I used to feed when I was a little girl on the Paramount lot. I always have had ‘Elly May Clampett Syndrome,’ I like taking care of critters. [laughs] You came from a large family yourself, and your brother was in a Hitchcock movie, right?

Susan Olsen
Susan Olsen as Cindy Brady
Photo credit: Paramount Home Entertainment

Olsen: I had two brothers who were actors, my sister as well. All four of us were ‘discovered.’ How did the family dynamic lead to so many notable acting roles?

Olsen: It wasn’t a dynamic, I think it was a curse. [laughs] My grandmother thought it was her blessing, but I’m the seventh generation ancestor of a woman who was hanged in Salem, Massachusetts. So there might be a little magic in the family. It started with my oldest brother, who was beautiful, too beautiful to keep to ourselves. He was literally discovered standing on a street corner.

My Dad didn’t like it at all, but one-by-one we all got discovered. My Mom would say, ‘it must be fate, you have to give them a chance.’ So each of us went through it, and got out of it around high school. I’m the only one who stayed in it, to some degree. You are also a pop artist. What part of your personality does the expression of that art define, and what are you most proud of regarding that journey of creation?

Olsen: It’s funny, because I don’t like ‘pop’ music or ‘pop’-style movies, but pop art makes sense to me. I was a graphic artist, and have done art since I was a little girl. The aspect of my personality that is coming out from my pop art is my insanity, my love for frivolous and silly things.

I paint pictures of jars of Fluff Marshmallow Creme, in different situations. It started because ‘Fluff,’ was my nickname, so that is what I pursued. Fluff Marshmallow Creme is actually very American. It is made in a factory where it’s the only product made. It’s still a small-time product, still made like it was in the 1920s. Very unusual for a product today. It’s a piece of Americana in a jar.

“The Hollywood Show” comes to Chicagoland on September 7th, 8th and 9th, 2012 (Saturday 9/8 and Sunday 9/9 are celebrity appearance days), at The Hilton Rosemont, 5500 N. River Road, Rosemont, Ill. For complete details, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2011 Patrick McDonald,

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